Royce Silvan would like to meet, in person, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
He’d also like to meet Bruce Springsteen and Barbara Streisand — two more names on his bucket list.
And, of course, Silvan, Indigo Run Plantation’s tennis director, also has a tennis bucket list: he’d like to go to all four Grand Slam tournaments; hit with his idols (John McEnroe, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, specifically); and ...
... hit with Takuya Miki.
Which Silvan just got to do, during last week’s Professional Tennis Registry Hilton Head Championships. The tournament, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, is an International Tennis Federation 2 Series event.
The championships, held in Chaplin Park and in its 30th year, saw Miki, of Japan, and Daniel Rodrigues, of Brazil, meet in the men’s finals, with Miki taking home the $1,400 check with a 6-3, 6-4 win. (Miki — along with Australian Ben Weekes — also won the doubles championship.)
Silvan wishes you would have been there to see “Taku” — currently ranked No. 11 in the world, according to the ITF — play. He’s hoping he can convince you to come to next year’s tournament.
“We were watching tennis in a way we don’t see it on a daily basis,” Silvan said. “It’s a reminder to us that tennis can be played on another level.”
A high level.
Silvan, who’s been at Indigo Run for seven years and has coached Hilton Head’s Special Olympics tennis squad for the past five, says there’s a lot we can learn from Miki’s game.
“As a tennis coach, it is much easier for me to teach good, technical strokes than to teach judgment of the ball,” Silvan said. “Judgment of the ball takes into account many factors: the speed of the shot, the spin, the height, the trajectory. ... The margin of error in wheelchair tennis is mere inches — for them, it has to be dead on, and that’s something we can all learn from and improve on.”
“They’re hitting shots that are above eye-level almost every time,” Silvan said, “and that requires a lot of upper-body strength.”
All tennis players can look at Miki and his comrades and see their shoulder and back strength, Silvan said, and find inspiration to develop more of their own.
“We’re one of the top stops on the tour,” PTR Vice President of Special Events and Tournament Director Julie Jilly said Friday morning. “And there are numerous ways people can get involved with the tournament.”
Experienced tennis players can serve as ball persons during matches. Others can serve food or water, and help shade players. A dedicated group of supporters have been making players some of their favorite dishes over the years, Jilly said.
Silvan has been attending the tournament for seven years. His daughter, Danielle, has been a tournament volunteer during that time. This year, Silvan served as a ball person himself.
And he had the opportunity to practice with Miki, something he’ll always cherish because of the pro’s skill — and graciousness.
Silvan didn’t have his racquet, so Miki let him borrow one, even going so far as offering to remove the worn grip tape.
Before entering the empty court, Miki asked if it was available for practice, the courteous thing to do.
And finally, when Miki held up his trophy, he invited Silvan and his family to pose with him for a picture.
Another lesson any tennis player — any person — can learn from Miki: kindness.
And one less item on Silvan’s bucket list.
2017 PTR Hilton Head Championships results
Women’s singles: Lucy Shuker (Great Britain)
Women’s doubles: Shelby Baron (United States) Mackenzie Soldan (United States)
Men’s singles: Takuya Miki (Japan)
Men’s doubles: Miki and Ben Weekes (Australia)
Quads singles: Robert Shaw (Canada)
Quads doubles: Bryan Barten (United States) and Nicholas Taylor (United States)